Monday 31 October 2011

Nigeria: Why Black Africans may never have a revolution

Some stark truths

Every once in a while, the need to address controversial issues are pertinent, if only to start a conversation on certain unpalatable matters that in these times might be politically incorrect but nonetheless true on closer scrutiny.

In this blog, I take 6 paragraphs from Lord Lugard’s book, The Dual Mandate that I covered in my Apes Obey Series a few years ago; then, I excerpted phrases and used them as topical pointers to contemporary issues in Nigeria.

With the kinds of political upheaval around the world and the agitation for more representative democracy along with the apparent docility of our people allowing for moribund, clueless and unaccountable governments, profligacy that serves the elite with impunity and the way religious ignorance allows for people to be herded as sheep, cattle or goats, it is necessary to revisit the observations made almost 90 years ago.

This time, within the text of the paragraphs I will offer some commentary in parenthesis along with my observations which I do not expect many to agree with but that is a matter of opinion.

Happy, but why?

In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person [As far back as 2003, Nigeria topped the list of countries with the happiest people, the same still finds true in 2011, though there is no reason in the midst of its problems, poverty, violence, corruption and attendant issues why it has been identified as such.]; lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight [Everyone knows that the development of infrastructure will make a difference to Nigeria’s economic growth and the welfare of the people, the government just seems to lack the will, the resolve, the ability and the drive to implement such.]; naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity [The politicians are an example but religious leaders seem to exemplify a level of hedonism that is sickening.], with little sense of veracity, [The matter of character and how the corrupt find much respect within society and the community when they should be shunned.], fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery.

Hedonists and materialists

His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment [Sadly, this suggests the inability to be objective, like working with ideas or logic, we'll rather engage in ad hominem attacks than address the issues.], and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future or grief for the past [Our sense of history is poor and the way people do things with impunity suggests we are not afraid of the consequences of our actions.]; his mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic [Many of the things we deign to imitate are poorly adapted or managed, we give those adaptations a local interpretation to suggest difference and still fail at it.], and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the State he has reached [It is any wonder that our desire for material prosperity is exploited so well by the powerful?].

Losing our sense of history

Through the ages the African appears to have evolved no organized religious creed [Our animist traditions are somewhat inherently evil and those we have acquired are badly followed.], and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural [The superstitious element of our psyche is ready material to be exploited for gain by many religious cults and leaders masquerading as purveyors of solutions to our problems as we are enticed, cajoled and fleeced.].

Suited for the mob

He lacks the power of organization [This might explain why we might never have an Arab Spring but there are other issues about organisation too that plague us in terms of order, meticulousness, following rules and much more.], and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business [Except cynically where a mob is aroused or religious fervour is excited for sometimes illogical ends.]; he loves the display of power [Everyone who seems to have power almost always allows it to corrupt them.], but fails to realize its responsibility [This will require a treatise but it is self-explanatory.]; he will work hard with a less incentive than most races [The many times we have tolerated, endured and condoned abuse for little or no reward and still do.].

Braggadocio par excellence

He has the courage of the fighting animal, an instinct rather than a moral virtue [Even when offenders are caught red-handed, the bluster, effrontery and brazenness expressed feigning innocence is breath-taking.]; in brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy [This appears to inform the cult of personality that surrounds the powerful be they political or religious – a sense of fawning and obsequiousness that is uncharitably sycophancy.].

Impunity without consequence

Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his lack of ability to visualize the future. [Probably, the most damning conclusion after this assessment.]

It goes without saying that a good deal of this observation made in the 1920s finds true today and sadly, I sometimes find myself exhibiting certain traits that appear to belie a cultural predilection to type, something one strives hard to be rid of and in the process be a better person.


J.McE said...

interesting stuff. still mostly true today.

Codliveroil said...

Very interesting, no one is perfect, but Nigerians seem to be further away from perfection than many.

A good post, as it is controversial and yet  it resounds with truth.  It is not by mistake that Nigeria is third world.

I wouldn't want to tar all of Africa with the same brush used for Nigerians. Indeed Cape Verde has made massive strides so has Botswana.

In the Caribbean they are doing even better, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica all are light years ahead of Nigeria.

This is a courageous post, thank you Akin.

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